Beyond London: Brighton

Brighton is known for being one of the most vibrant seaside resorts in England and the summer months are when its beaches, bars, trendy restaurants and stylish boutiques really come alive. However, Brighton has more than just beaches to offer and is also a great destination at any point in the year for shopping and culture. Some visit Brighton to take advantage of one of the best nightlife scenes in the UK, others to enjoy the city on a family friendly getaway.

Brighton is an incredibly easy trip from London as it is directly south of the capital and can be reached via train in approximately one hour.

You could visit Brighton on a day trip, but there is definitely enough to discover in this fun city to last you several days. If you can give yourself more time to enjoy the Brighton vibe, you will be glad you did.

What to Do When You Visit Brighton

Brighton Beach

In the summer, the pebble beaches of Brighton are buzzing with locals and tourists enjoying the sunshine and relaxing by the seaside. The beach comes alive with a party atmosphere, with live music filtering down from the beach-side bars in the evenings and poi twirlers creating arcs of fire in the air.

Visit Brighton Beach on a Sunny Day (Photo by G-Man)
Visit Brighton Beach on a Sunny Day (Photo by G-Man)

The beach is best for swimming in low tide, when the water retreats to reveal the sandy seabed and you don’t have to hurt your feet on the pebbles. By the Marina you will see a collection of fishermen lazily casting their rods and watching the sunset. The fantastic seaside atmosphere is one of the reasons that many people have favoured Brighton as a holiday destination ever since Victorian times.

Brighton Pier

No trip to Brighton is complete without visiting it’s iconic pier. Your kids will love taking a spin on the colourful retro carousel and you can promise them a lip-smacking treat of crispy traditional English fish and chips or a bag of sugar-sprinkled donuts.

Visit Brighton Pier for some old fashioned fun. (Photo by Jeanhousen)
Visit Brighton Pier for some old fashioned fun. (Photo by Jeanhousen)

The pier is filled with old-timey seaside resort fun, including cheesy photo boards where you can stick your face through and take photos of yourself as a mermaid or a scuba diver, loud and colourful carnival games, candy shops, karaoke bars, stomach-twisting fairground rides and buzzing arcade machines. Treat yourself to some of your favourite sweets and lose yourself in the wild spinning madness of it all.

Check out the Brighton Pier website for more information about what you can do here.

The Lanes

Right in the historic quarter of Brighton there is a collection of quirky boutique stores and independent shops know as “The Lanes”. This area is one of the best parts of the city to take a walk, because you will always spot something fun and interesting and the buskers create a lively atmosphere. You could easily spend several hours getting lost in the Lanes browsing the fascinating little shops, wandering down the narrow passageways and eating delicious food in the many coffee shops and restaurants.

The Lanes, a great place to shop when you visit Brighton (Photo by Stephen McKay)
The Lanes, a great place to shop when you visit Brighton (Photo by Stephen McKay)

When the sun goes down, you can also catch a glimpse into the spooky history of Brighton with a Ghost Walk of the Lanes which will reveal many true spine-chilling tales from the city’s history.

The North Laine

The North Laine is a funky neighborhood which is not your conventional shopping experience, as you are likely to find bizarre and fascinating shops selling magic potions, fairy wings and vintage clothing. When you visit Brighton be sure to walk through this alternative part of town you will see plenty of dread locked hairstyles, creative piercings, neon colours, gothic styles and much more.

One of the many brightly coloured shops in the North Laine area of Brighton (Photo by Simon Carey)
One of the many brightly coloured shops in the North Laine area of Brighton (Photo by Simon Carey)

The great thing about the North Laine is the variety of fun and unusual independent retailers. You can spend hours uncovering quirky treasures such as specialist kite providers, retro 50s shops and stores filled with Oriental furniture.

Brighton Nightlife

Brighton nightlife is fantastic and this exciting city is known for being an excellent place to see live music, as there are plenty of great pubs and concert venues hosting live gigs. The city is also almost always on the schedule of any band touring through Britain, so take a look at the local event listings to see if any bands will be playing when you visit Brighton.

It is a lot of fun to visit Brighton during the gay pride parade (Photo by Dominic Alves)
It is a lot of fun to visit Brighton during the gay pride parade (Photo by Dominic Alves)

This city also has some of the best gay and lesbian bars and clubs in the UK, most of which are located in the area known as the’Gay Quarter’ in Kemp Town, which is only a short walk from the seafront. There is also the Gay Pride Parade every year, a colourful and lively festival which usually takes place in Mid August.

Where to Stay

Many of the hotels in the city are located right on the seafront, offering a great view of the beach. You will find a range from five star resorts to small bed and breakfasts. There are also plenty of choices for accommodation in the city center if you are on a party weekend and want to be right in the middle of the action. Looking for a place to stay a little bit further from the water will bring cheaper deals and there are a couple of cheap backpacker hostels for travelers on a budget. You can also search for Brighton residents who are renting their apartments as private accommodation via Wimdu to get more of a local travel experience.

Enjoy Exploring Brighton!

It’s easy to see why Brighton is one of the most popular destinations in the UK. This laid back seaside city is a lot of fun and is a great place to enjoy a weekend away or even longer. Have you been to Brighton? What other essential Brighton experiences would you recommend?

(Featured image, Brighton Pier at night, by Dominic Alves)

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

4 Comments

  1. The Taj Mahal-eque Brighton Pavilion is a must see – love it or hate it, it’s definitely an unusual piece of British architecture! I personally really like it, and would recommend people to visit inside as well as just the gardens.
    Brighton also has an awesome mix of restaurants and cafes, including some of the UK’s best vegetarian restaurants.
    I was born in Brighton and went back there for university and absolutely loved my time there. My favourite place in England, and I do miss the atmosphere, food and lifestyle (city next to the seaside) at times now being in Canada!

  2. Somehow I forgot to mention that Brighton is surrounding by a National Park so there’s easy access to the beautiful South Downs, as well as lovely village pubs and the Seven Sisters (chalk cliffs). Ahhh now I’m a little bit homesick!

  3. Wow, i can never resist the beach on a bright sunny day of summer. England, being one of my dream holiday destination, Brighton has now become one of the “must visits” when I set foot in the UK. I have always wanted to walk along the lanes a seen in the movies, feels rather chic and stylish in a simple yet sophisticated manner. Can’t wait to book my tickets and plan my itenary for next year’s travels!

  4. I lived in Brighton for a year and I loved it, except for the British weather which drove me crazy. I lived in two different period apartments. They were beautiful. I miss them so much! Also the best vegan chocolate cake I’ve ever had at Sanctuary Cafe, but apparently it’s closed.

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